Problems with the My Turn on Earth model

March 30, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 12:25 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP

In the comments following my recent Models of our Pre-Mortal Existence post some readers sensed that I was skeptical of the commonly held notions of what out pre-mortal life was like. Well, I am skeptical. I think the model as presented is not consistent with the whole of scripture or the teaching of Joseph Smith. (I just noticed that some of these things are being discussed over at Splendid Sun even as I post this.) It is not the ingredients I object to, but rather the interpretations of those ingredients and the way they are put together. First I’ll recap the model as I have heard it then I’ll explain why I think it is an inadequate and inaccurate model. Here is what I wrote in that post:

A. The Basics (aka the “My Turn on Earth” model) – This one goes something like this: We (all humankind) were all living in heaven (whatever that means) with our literal spirit parents. (Some take that to mean that we were all born as spiritual babies to spirit mothers, but most never think about it). We were all like little children and we wanted to grow up to be like our Heavenly Parents. So we all got together in a grand family council and our Father proposed a plan to build an earth and send us all down so we could be tested. The idea was to veil our minds so we could show our true colors without remembering our Celestial home. The goal was to get back to that home, but more mature and like our Father. In order to overcome the problems inherent in mortality, though, we needed help. We needed a savior. Two volunteers stepped forward – our parents’ first-born spirit son (Jesus) and another brother of some rank (Lucifer). Lucifer proposed a plan that would compel all to obey and return to heaven and Jesus suggested following the Father’s plan which gave us free agency. A vote was taken and two thirds sided with Jesus and the Father while one third sided with Lucifer. As a result that one third was cast out of heaven and Lucifer became the Devil, Satan, with the one third his angels. So the earth was created and we are all taking our turn on earth to see how we’ll do.

First let me say that the entire point of this post is to show that we really know next to nothing about the details of our pre-mortal life. I’m ok with that. What I’m not ok with is the tendency we have to build all sorts of doctrinal superstructures on the sandy foundation of our current understanding of the pre-mortal life. (This all started with a discussion over at Mormon Metaphysics with a faithful and interesting saint named George who was making various doctrinal arguments based on his view of the pre-mortal life.) The following is not to say that most of the ingredients below are not real and true, but rather that we know very little about these things. Therefore, supporting arguments based on views of our pre-mortal life is a very tenuous position to take unless those assumptions are agreed upon.

Missing ingredients:

    � Our spirits are co-eternal with God. (We are as “old” as Him)
    Joseph made pretty strong statements about this at the end of his ministry (most notably in the King Follet Discourse). Details are anything but clear, but the implications are broad depending on how this idea is applied.
    � A mortal life (and possibly atonement) by the Father performed previously on another planet
    This idea is also inferred in the KFD. This idea is also applied to the NT scriptures where Jesus says he does nothing but what he had seen his Father do already. But exactly what Joseph meant is not agreed upon by all.
    � The merit program
    If there were noble and great ones but we are all eternal, what did some do to merit being designated noble and great? What kind of tests/probations had they passed to be considered such?

Misunderstood or misapplied ingredients:

    � Permanently living in Heaven/ Our Celestial Home
    Where is this doctrine found in scripture? The idea that we were in the presence of the Father can be shown but we seem to take it farther to imply we were permanently there. I see no evidence of this in the revelations.
    � One grand family council
    First, let me note that the term “council in heaven” is not found in our scipture (though it is in the topical guide). It seems that many saints picture this as a great general conference… But where is that idea supported in scripture? When do we assume this council happened? I suspect most believe it happened immediately preceding the creation of this earth though this is also unclear.
    � Literal spirit children? (Viviparous birth?)
    The details of this are anything but clear. Some believe there is a difference between an intelligence and a spirit, others disagree. Some believe there is such a thing as real spirit birth, others disagree. The scriptures are largely silent on the details. In any case, how we can being both eternal and created is a question that is not known to us yet (if it is even possible). I’ll probably write a whole post on this one later. We know we are children of God, but what that means exactly is not fully defined.
    � We were all like little children (and wanted to grow up)
    Were all like little children or just some? Were the noble and great ones that Abraham stood among like little children still to or were they more mature spirits? What accounts for the gradation?
    � The details of Jesus/Lucifer plan proposals
    Again we know next to nothing about this (though the Bible Dictionary has a nice write up on it). The picture I have of a courtroom does not make a lot of sense. There are scriptures related to a war in heaven but again, details are very fuzzy.
    � How the war fought or the vote taken?
    How did we fight this war? Was it really a vote? If so how did we cast our vote — with the raise of a hand or with our feet? Was it verbal or the some of previous choices that constituted the vote? If it is the latter then we are in the process of “voting” every day here.

Please don’t let any of these questions try your faith! I only bring them up because I often sense a certain bravado among the saints based on this idea that we know all about our pre-mortal life. Yes, we know there was a life before this one, but beyond that there is mostly inference, personal opinions, and speculations. There is very little official doctrine on these things. Therefore, in order to have a discussion and base arguments on activities in the pre-mortal world(s) we probably ought to agree on those details first.

So what do you think? Do we know more about some of these things than I have intimated? Do we know less than I have claimed? Feel free to chime in.

62 Comments »

  1. the merit program

    I know that I differ with you here, but I really believe that not all spirits have the same capacity. So the disparity is simply eternal. That is not to say a spirit with a lot of “intelligence” was always good, we have Lucifer as the archetype for how things can go badly. Basically: the capacity of a cup remains the same, no matter how much water is currently in it.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 30, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

  2. Interesting idea J. So in the case of Abraham, do you think he always was more noble and great by nature rather than meriting that designation? If so how do you reconcile this with D&C 130:18-19?:

    18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

    19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 30, 2005 @ 2:36 pm

  3. I think that we are talking about different usages of the same word.

    17 Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and the moon be above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; and there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.

    18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

    19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

    I don’t think the Lord is saying that the Moon has the capacity to become an Earth. He is illustrating a natural disparity in existence. So to with the intelligence of the actors. Moreover, this sepperate usage is consistent with JS’s conflation of the the term intellegence and spirit.

    To go back to the cup analogy, we could say that the cup doesn’t change, but however much water is in the cup when we die, we will get in the resurection. Exaltation is having the cup full.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 30, 2005 @ 3:24 pm

  4. He is illustrating a natural disparity in existence.

    I think you are misapplying the analogy on those scriptures J. The most standard usage is stars below the moon which is below sun. Yes, stars will never become a moon but the Sun is a star, and a not particularly large or bright one at that. I think it is clear that the analogy is a perspective-based one and that the amount of light they emit is the comparative factor. Therefore, the idea is that when we get more light and truth in our lives we move up the ladder of light and truth. If someone has the amount of Light that could be compared to the amount a star emits from our perspective, the idea is that she can attain more and become more comparable to the Light the moon emits from our perspective (and even that varies depending on the waxing/waning).

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 30, 2005 @ 4:25 pm

  5. Actually, it referes to vs. 6-9. Basically, it refers to the time it takes for a planet to turn on its access. The moon (which is above) takes longer to spin the Earth, and Kolob (the most above) takes the longest. Now whether this divide is ontological or not is a good question. I think it is.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 30, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

  6. I’d add that John Gee and others have argued that the Book of Abraham follows a geocentric model, as was common in the near east. In such a scheme one might wish to be careful trying to read it in terms of our notion of astronomy. My inclination is that it is a spherical level of heavenly ascent with God’s realm being the final level of heavens.

    Comment by Clark — March 30, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

  7. I recant. (the interpretation, that is, not the position :) )

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 30, 2005 @ 5:26 pm

  8. I guess I assumed you were using that scripture in the more classic Sun/Moon/Stars motif (a la 1 Cor or section 76). I agree that it is a different and more spatially based model Abraham is using. In any case, it seems not to be useful to support the notion of an ontological divide between God and man. Just because God is more intelligent than they all doesn’t mean he is a different species than us — it just mean he is more intelligent.

    BTW — I don’t mind people being more intelligent than me — that is why I like you guys so well ;-)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 30, 2005 @ 5:31 pm

  9. I made a long post that has not shown up. Do I need a membership or something?

    Comment by George — March 30, 2005 @ 10:19 pm

  10. Well it worked this time. I tried to send the other post twice. Maybe I am cursed.

    I will try again later

    George

    Comment by George — March 30, 2005 @ 10:20 pm

  11. Doh! I’m sorry to hear that George. I’ve been looking forward to your participation. I now use two safeguards against that problem. 1) I started using Firefox instead of IE when blogging. When you hit the back button your comment is still there with Firefox. 2) I copy my comment before I hit submit. That way if something goes wrong I just paste it in and submit again. But I feel for you. Losing a long comment is highly annoying.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 30, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

  12. (Note: It looks like we got our first anti-Mormon here with this comment from “Joyce”. The only problem is th comment was inaccurate and not very intelligent… And I only can stand intelligent and honest anti’s… Oh well. Blake’s response was too classic to erase, though — GFJ)

    Comment by Joyce — March 30, 2005 @ 11:18 pm

  13. Joyce — if that is your name (which I doubt since you were Jennifer over on Splendid Sun) — JS didn’t teach any of the things that you attribute to him. Get a clue and get a life. Someone is looney (or dishonest) here — but it isn’t JS or BY.

    Comment by Blake — March 31, 2005 @ 12:22 am

  14. I try again to post the long post. I have been looking for a site where discussions can be held between faithful beleivers. I hope that this might be such a site.

    I am the “…faithful and interesting saint named George…” from the other list. I figure that if my comments are the catalyst for the discussion here I ought to at least post the basis for discussion.

    It is important for me to state that if I am wrong about anything at all, I can repent real fast. Therefore I reserve the right to change my position at any time for any reason. Furthermore I reserve the right to suggest that I need to clarify anything I say so as to make it more understandable.

    Now as to the outline of my understanding. I will post only the brief outline in consideration of short posts.

    1. We are eternal, uncreated beings. We were intelligences before we were spiritual beings. If that means we were a pool of intelligence used as a resource for spiritual creations or, as I believe, individual beings that have existed in this form for eternity, I am not sure. But that is not crucial to the discussion.

    2. We were “born” into a spiritual, Celestial world by the joining together of our intelligence and a spiritual body. The exact discription of being “born” is not clear. I beleive it entailed a process similiar to that we experienced for mortality. Again this is not crucial to the discussion.

    3. We lived for a time in the home of our Father and Mother. We were raised to a point that we were ready to leave the home and go elsewhere. We were taught by a loving Father and Mother and prepared for the next step. We began innocent and were all equally prepared as part of this process.

    4. We continued to live in the presence, but not immediate proximity, of our Heavenly parents, but were sent to a spiritual world where we continued to learn and progress for millions of years – eons of time. It is during this time that we developed the talents and abilities, as well as the tendencies to act in certain ways. Some were righteous, although they sinned and needed repentance and the atonement. Others were wicked and showed their true nature at that time.

    5. At some point we had developed as much as we could in that life. We needed a body and the mortal experience to continue to progress.

    6. The Father called a series of councils where He presented a Plan of Salvation for our consideration. This, of course, was in preparation for our motal life.

    7. Lucifer rebelled and wanted to take the authority and position of the Father. Lucifer wanted to replace the Father in the great scheme of things. It was not a disagreement, but rebellion. You and I were there and participated in the struggle. We, of course, were among those that accepted the Fathers plan and authority. We rejected Lucifer
    and his pretensions to power and authority.

    8. Lucifer lost and was cast out of heaven, along with his followers.

    9. The Plan was implemented and we were sent to a physical earth. It was a joining of the spiritual earth and the physical earth. We were placed on this earth with a purpose in mind. Each of us are placed in a situation that allows us to maximize our potential. Some are capable of exaltation, some are not.

    10. Lucifer is after us.

    11. The atonement is real.

    I hope that this is clear, but I suspect that I will need to fill in quite a bit. I hope that it spurs good discussion. I would be happy to have flaws pointed out, but I hope that I would have a good response for any such perceptions.

    George

    Comment by George — March 31, 2005 @ 7:42 am

  15. First a note to “Joyce”: This is not the place to attack the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If that is your intention your comments are not welcome here. As George hoped, this is a place for faithful and honest saints to discuss doctrines in a respectful and honest manner.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 31, 2005 @ 9:02 am

  16. I have found the idea of a literal spirit birth with its inherent essentiallism very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with evolution.

    http://mormonevolution.blogspot.com/2005/03/evolution-and-spirit-birth.html

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — March 31, 2005 @ 10:58 am

  17. Interesting Jeffrey, I have found the idea of evolution difficult to reconcile with a lot of gospel principles. It kinda depends upon which you put first, or so I observe.

    I have always said that if you accept evolution you must explain the Fall of Adam, and if you accept the Fall of Adam you must explain the geologic record.

    But then, who wants to argue about evolution? At least on this thread.

    George

    Comment by George — March 31, 2005 @ 11:50 am

  18. Thanks for the great comment George. I’ll respond to a few things.

    It is important for me to state that if I am wrong about anything at all, I can repent real fast. Therefore I reserve the right to change my position at any time for any reason. Furthermore I reserve the right to suggest that I need to clarify anything I say so as to make it more understandable.

    Well put. I’ll apply that disclaimer to my thoughts as well.

    1. We were intelligences before we were spiritual beings. If that means we were a pool of intelligence used as a resource for spiritual creations or, as I believe, individual beings that have existed in this form for eternity, I am not sure.

    I happen to lean toward this position as well. However there is another camp that believes there is no difference between spirits and intelligences from all eternity. Blake has articulated that position pretty well in the past.

    2. We were “born” into a spiritual, Celestial world by the joining together of our intelligence and a spiritual body.

    It makes logical sense to me. The problem is that this is speculation and not everyone buys it.

    3. We lived for a time in the home of our Father and Mother. We were raised to a point that we were ready to leave the home and go elsewhere. We were taught by a loving Father and Mother and prepared for the next step. We began innocent and were all equally prepared as part of this process.

    This seems highly unlikely to me. How is an eternal uncreated being “raised”? In a mortal body it makes sense to me because of the growth and change that naturally happen in a mortal body. Are you implying that there is actual growth as in from baby to adulthood? Wouldn’t that naturally mean that death must apply to that body also? Eternal bodies must be unchanging to be eternal as far as I can tell.

    4. …sent to a spiritual world where we continued to learn and progress for millions of years – eons of time.

    Seems highly suspect to me… Were we in unchanging spiritual bodies? Were there families there? If so how could that be with unchanging bodies? Was it really the same sociality that exists here? This portion seems to me where the Heber C. model makes a lot more sense than what you are presenting.

    5. At some point we had developed as much as we could in that life. We needed a body and the mortal experience to continue to progress.

    What was the cutoff that meant we were ready? Why were some noble spirits sent along with less noble spirits here? If all made the cutoff why are all not equal here?

    6. The Father called a series of councils where He presented a Plan of Salvation for our consideration. This, of course, was in preparation for our motal life.

    Series of councils? Is that in the revelations anywhere?

    7-10

    How did Lucifer acually rebel against the almighty God? Was it much different than when you and I rebel here?

    11. The atonement is real.

    I couldn’t agree more!

    My problem is that if the course of the Lord is one Eternal round, this seems like a very asymmetrical model of the eternities. I believe God uses more symmetry than that. I think the problem is that the model you present is so “this-life” centric. This model reminds me of the ancient belief that the earth was the heavy center of the universe. That isn’t true, and likewise I doubt that this earth life is the apex or crux of our eternal lives.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — March 31, 2005 @ 2:48 pm

  19. Well there is certainly a lot to talk about. Instead of trying to respond to each question with every post I would like to take one objection you posted and deal a bit with it. It seems to be the very crux of the matter and therefore might provide the greatest usefulness to the question.

    But first, a comment about your apparent concern for speculation. Speculation is not a four letter word. It is not inappropriate to speculate – as long as it does not become the basis of your testimony and your relationship with others. Soooo,I suggest that we accept your observation that it is speculation and not mention it again. Just because it is speculation does not mean that it is not true, it just does not require us to accept it as true. I judge a comment on its logical compliance with other things that I am confident are true. Ie, it needs to be consistent with the scriptures, consistent with the prophets (as hard as that may be), consistent within itself, and it has to feel right. Some things I know to be true, somethings I know to be false, most things are somewhere inbetween.

    You asked: “How is an eternal uncreated being “raised”? In a mortal body it makes sense to me because of the growth and change that naturally happen in a mortal body. Are you implying that there is actual growth as in from baby to adulthood? Wouldn’t that naturally mean that death must apply to that body also? Eternal bodies must be unchanging to be eternal as far as I can tell.”

    I do not understand where you get the idea that an eternal body, spiritual or physical, are unchanging by their very nature. In the thread on regression “grasshopper” (??) posts a quote from BY which belies that entire concept. Furthermore you carefully, in that thread, articulated the concept of eternal progression as being basic to LDS doctrine and thinking. I suggest to you that this principle is an eternal one extending back as well as forward. Certainly there is no reason to beleive that we were created as mature, fully formed, and intelectually complete individuals. The very notion of the same socialability existing in the heavens supports the idea that this earth is a mirror, albeit fogged a bit, of heavenly life. As we grow and develop talents in this life there is no reason to suppose that the same thing would not have been happening for eons of time before this life. I could use the example of the musical prodigies of the 1600’s and ask: do you think that they were so talented because their mothers just started them on piano lessons at six months of age so that they could compose at three years of age? Surely they brought that talent with them from their interests in the pre-existence. I just keep wondering what I did with my time while I was there.

    I simply assert that the very essence of the doctrine of the nature of God and man supports the idea that we have in the past, and will in the future, continue to progress and develop. We are told that in the beginning we were innocent. Implying, at least in my mind, that growth was necessary for us to become as the Father.

    I veiw this life as a continuation of the life before. We are eternal beings currently in a mortal stage of progression.

    You ask if growing and developing naturally entails death. If death is the movement from one sphere to another then you might think of our birth into mortality as death from the pre-existence. And in the same manner death from this life simply means moving to a new sphere of existence. But in neither case was the continued existence of the enity known as Geoff or George ever in question. We have, and will continue, to live and exist. In that sense it is apparent that for an eternal being there is not really such a thing as death.

    George: 5. At some point we had developed as much as we could in that life. We needed a body and the mortal experience to continue to progress.

    Geoff asks: “What was the cutoff that meant we were ready? Why were some noble spirits sent along with less noble spirits here? If all made the cutoff why are all not equal here?”

    George responds: This is a really good question and one I would like to consider in some detail. However let us consider the previous point first. Please let us make sure we get back to this one before we get mad :-) at each other and cut off discussion.

    Comments?

    George

    Comment by George — April 1, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

  20. Thanks for the response, George. I’m chuckling at the idea I gave you that I’m against speculation… Check out the posts around here and you’ll see that speculation is my specialty. I forgot that “speculation” is a loaded word in the church. The only reason I used it was to point out that the specific point you were making was not an accepted fact yet, but rather a theory. I love theories but I wanted to be sure we were in agreement on that… Sorry if it threw you off.

    So regarding this question of how our bodies grew from childhood to maturity in the pre-mortal spheres. I’m glad you mentioned the quotes from Brigham because he happened to believe in the same many-earth theory I quoted from Heber C. Kimball. Under that model we have at least logical explanations of all the things you mentioned (talents developed, same sociality existing among us, progression forward just like this life, beginning innocent every time, and of course there is still no such thing as real death in that model either — only mortal death). If you are agreeing with that model then we should shift to working through some of the snags it has. If you disagree with that model then what are you saying?

    How were we “born” as spirits? If we started as “spirit babies” and our form changed to adult form why did the change suddenly stop when we got at the equivalent of 30 (or whatever)? As far as I can tell, Eternal bodies don’t change. They are by definition unchanging so entropy does not break them down. (For instance, isn’t it the common notion that we will get a grown-up body and unchanging body at resurrection?)

    In other words, I can imagine how Heber C. might answer these questions (plus the questions about why we were placed where we were here) but I fail to see logical answers to these with the My Turn on Earth model. Most of your last comment seems to support Heber and Brigham more than MToE.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 1, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  21. Geoff; I do not see how this quote, all by itself, leads to the idea of a successive number of worlds that we lived on. I shall have to take the time to look up the quote and see if I can see how you can interpret it in the way you do.

    George

    D. The many-earths model – This one is best described in an opinion put forth by Heber C. Kimball:

    We have come here to become inured to work-to build temples, and improve upon the elements that God has placed around us, that we may become more skillful tomorrow, through the experience of to-day. What I do not to-day, when the sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time to-day, I wake up to-morrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day. (Journal of Discourses 4:329)
    The basic idea if I understand this model correctly is that the worlds without end described in Moses that have already passed were inhabited by us and we either progressed or regressed in those.

    Comment by George — April 1, 2005 @ 6:06 pm

  22. George,

    It may be that Blake is right in believing Heber C. and Brigham were off their collective nut on some theories/doctrines, but the fact that this is one of the things they believed (or at least took quite seriously) is pretty well established as far as I can tell.

    I’m not making any claims about the validity of that idea, I was simply stating the MToE model seems to make less sense and fit with fewer scriptures and other doctrines than even it does. What does that say for the MToE model then? (A bigger question might be: If neither are accurate then what is the best model?)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 1, 2005 @ 7:29 pm

  23. Geoff; I have not yet looked up the quote as I just came in from an active evening. But either way I do not believe the concept at all.

    I referenced the BY quote as supporting the view of eternal progression for all of us. Especially the idea that life would not be much without all that is entailed in progression, learning, etc. It would, in my judgement, apply to the life before motality as the life after.

    George

    Comment by George — April 2, 2005 @ 12:27 am

  24. I’m not really looking to talk about the merits or lack thereof of the Heber C. model yet either.

    My only point was that the MToE model seems to make the less sense and match fewer scriptures than even that model does. I’m hoping you can help defend the MToE model because it seems to be if not contra-scriptural at least a non-scriptural extrapolation to me.

    Also, one other issue the the MToE model seems totally inadequate to explain: What about little children that die? How do we explain that in terms of probationary needs, etc.?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 2, 2005 @ 9:42 pm

  25. Geoff asks: “What about little children that die? How do we explain that in terms of probationary needs, etc.?”

    George responds: It seems to me that this is answered very well. If you consider that your life consists of more that this mortality then you can see an answer immediately and intuitively.

    We are put on this earth based on our needs for exaltation. Some have greater needs than others, for whatever reasons. Some of us may be here to learn one lesson or another. It has been said that this life is as much a result of pre-mortality as the next life is a result of this one. (I looked in Gospelink but could not locate the quote for this). Those who died as little children did not need any more than they received in this life – a mortal body. The rest of their development, at least as was needed to this point, had been realized in the pre-esistent sphere.

    This does not mean that those who came to this earth were inferior to those little ones, but rather some come for the blessing of others as well as their own needs. It all fits into the plan of salvation.

    This answer was, I am sure, familiar to you. Why is it a concern? What is the hole in the logic that you would point out to me? What am I missing in your question?

    George

    Comment by George — April 3, 2005 @ 6:33 am

  26. I just read the talk given by Heber C. Kimball, and found nothing in the talk about multiple worlds or lives on those worlds. I am glad you do not want to speak of that concept, for if that speach is the clearest statement of that thought then there is nothing to speak of at all.

    It seemed to me to be a speech about encourgaging the people to get off their duffs and get busy.

    There may be other statements that give credence to the multiple worlds idea, but it really is not a concern as I doubt very much there is anyone who beleives that now.

    So I suspect that nothing needs to be said more of this.

    George

    Comment by George — April 3, 2005 @ 6:44 am

  27. George,

    I’m not sure what to say if the clear comparison Heber C. made is lost on you. What else is he saying here?

    What I do not to-day, when the sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time to-day, I wake up to-morrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day.

    His point is pretty obvious… Every night we go to sleep. Every morning we wake up. This is a type and shadow of how death and resurrection work. Every day we either make progress or not. This is how a probationary life works. We eternally either progress or regress.

    I’m not saying you should believe his theory, but in order to miss what he is saying here is bizarre to me. That he believed this is a pretty established fact. Is it that you have a hard time believing that different brethren have had different theories over the years or something? If so this is a painfully naive view of things. And what’s the problem with him having his own theory anyway? You have your own theory and I don’t belive it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss its merits does it?

    Regarding the MToE model, I have asked a lot of questions about a lot of holes (aka details that just don’t make sense) and you seems to have answered very few. I agree with the answer you gave about the children who die, but the details I have asked about are the problem. If you can’t even come up with a better explanation than Heber C. did (a notion you think is false) then what does that say about the model you are working with?

    Just to get us back on track, here are some of the same unanswered questions again:

    How were we “born” as spirits? If we started as “spirit babies” and our form changed to adult form why did the change suddenly stop when we got at the equivalent of 30 (or whatever)? As far as I can tell, Eternal bodies don’t change. They are by definition unchanging so entropy does not break them down. (For instance, isn’t it the common notion that we will get a grown-up body and unchanging body at resurrection?)

    What was the cutoff that meant we were ready? Why were some noble spirits sent along with less noble spirits here? If all made the cutoff why are all not equal here?

    There are still others I asked, but this should be a good place to start for you.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 4, 2005 @ 12:52 am

  28. Geoff: “His point is pretty obvious… Every night we go to sleep. Every morning we wake up. This is a type and shadow of how death and resurrection work. Every day we either make progress or not. This is how a probationary life works. We eternally either progress or regress.”

    George: If his point is so obvious – what is it? That there is a type and shadow of progression? Where does he say anything at all, in this quote, about multiple worlds?

    I am not unaware of the fact that others had different views of how things work, so don’t waste time suggesting that I am foolish or naive to not realize that. I simply have read the entire talk that HCK was giving and it gives me no such impression as you suggest. Maybe I am just too illiterate to understand what he is saying. I said that there might be other information that would give credence to your statement that he believed such, but that this quote was not the convincing evidence that you suggest. That I see it different does not mean that I am refusing to understand that others see things differently.

    You ask what else was he saying here? I suggested that it seemed to me that he was telling the saints to get busy and get off their duffs. It was a speech of encouragement for what they needed to do now.

    At any rate I do not accept that the notion you suggest he has is true. Do you want to discuss the theory of multiple worlds and our many lives on those worlds or do you want to go to other topics. I have no particular interest in discussing this incorrect notion of multiple worlds. It is false and I see no value in looking at it in any particular detail.

    As to your other questions. You might want to go back a post or two and see if I have not responded to your concern that eternal bodies do not change. The idea that they do not change goes against all the idea of eternal progression. The evidence is that we do change. From intelligence to spiritual bodies to physical bodies to exalted bodies. Now, Geoff, that seems to me to be a response to your question and you have not responded to that. I have indicated that to understand my view the crucial element is to understand the basic nature of man, and of God. You are hung up on details that may not be known. How did birth occur? I have told you that I think it is like here on earth, but that I do not know. So what? It is the concept, not the details that tell the story. What was the criteria for coming to earth? I told you that we had progressed as far as we could in that condition and it was now time to move on to the next stage. Do you need the absolute intimate details of the criteria to understand the concept? I do not. But perhaps you do. I cannot provide them. I have a vail over my mind, but I do understand the concept.

    Geoff further asks: “Why were some noble spirits sent along with less noble spirits here? If all made the cutoff why are all not equal here? ”

    George responds: Geoff I specifically responded to this question by indicating that it would be better to discuss this after we had resolved, or at least understood, the basic idea of what we are and what our goals are in this life. I see no value in discussing a long list of questions on every post. Can we take one at a time?

    Tell me what you think of my answers and then we can have a dialogue, meaning a two way conversation. If all you want to do is demand answers then what is the point? I will be happy to give them, but neither will grow withour your response to my comments.

    I thought there might be others that had an interest in this topic. Apparently not, however, I would be interested in seeing others participate.

    I look forward to your response.

    George

    Comment by George — April 4, 2005 @ 7:13 am

  29. George: I have no particular interest in discussing this incorrect notion of multiple worlds. It is false and I see no value in looking at it in any particular detail.

    That’s good, because that discussion isn’t what I was after here. Perhaps I will discuss the follies and merits of this theory that many 19th century saints held later in another post. I won’t be hurt if you don’t participate (though you will be welcome to, of course :-) ).

    George: Can we take one at a time?

    Yes. Let’s try this idea of how an eternal/immortal body can change from infancy to adulthood and then stop aging. How is that logically possible and what evidence do you have that anything like that has ever happened?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 4, 2005 @ 9:18 am

  30. Geoff, I am sorry that I have not replied sooner. It seems that posts I offer are not always to be found on the listing. It seems that I see them and then they are not later there.

    In addition my sister has been in critical care at the hospital after a massive heart attack. But she is fine now. I will respond, again, to your issues – hopefully a bit later today.

    George

    Comment by George — April 6, 2005 @ 7:32 am

  31. No worries George. Best wishes to your sister in her recovery.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 6, 2005 @ 8:36 am

  32. Well I am back. My sister is doing very well,

    To your question: Let’s try this idea of how an eternal/immortal body can change from infancy to adulthood and then stop aging. How is that logically possible and what evidence do you have that anything like that has ever happened?

    I do not suggest that in the pre-existence we had an eternal or an immortal body. We did not have a physical body at all, and therefore the question of an eternal body is not relevant.

    I do assert that we are an uncreated, eternal, enity. We are undergoing progression. In particular that progression, as to this point, is that we change from intelligence to intelligence joined with a spiritual body. We then move to a spirit joined with a physical body. We then lose that body before we are resurrected with a spirit joined with a resurrected body.

    As to the point of our growing as spirits from childhood to adults. It is intuitive as well as supported by the idea of being first a child of God and then a Son of God and then receiving all that He has. That is growth and change.

    The Savior was the first begotted of the Father. As the Savior’s brother it suggests that I was begotten after He was. In the 1928 dictionary the definition of Beget is to procreate, as a father or sire. It can also mean to cause to exist. I accept the idea of procreation as I think of myself as a child of God.

    It is very evident to me that in our current state we have grown from being a child to being an adult. You ask for evidence – well, look around as we are everywhere.

    I would rather look at the flaws you see in the description, rather than being concerned with “proving” any particular point. That could come later. The flaws that you may see are answerable without resorting to proofs, rather to logic and completeness. Would you care to suggest flaws you see in the picture?

    George

    Comment by George — April 7, 2005 @ 7:26 am

  33. Thanks George. Here is the primary flaw with that answer: We know that spirit is matter. (See D&C 131:7-8) I do look around me for evidence and what I see is that everything that is born and grows from infancy to adulthood naturally then moves to old age and death. That is entropy and it applies to matter in our universe. Yet you describe some process where spirits are born, grow to adulthood and then stop aging? How can you support that idea? Nothing in our universe or scriptures support it.

    Secondarily — what is an intelligence? Is it made of spirit matter too? Is it in human form like a spirit? Any theories on any of these thing? If we are uncreated eternally what constitues “we”? Is our current identity the eternal thing or just our spirit matter particles? (Different people seem to have different theories on these things…)

    Please understand my motivations in exploring this… I am focusing on this concept because I strongly suspect it is a contra-scriptural and illogical tradition in the church rather than the truth. You know what the Lord said:

    And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (D&C 93:39. Italics mine)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 7, 2005 @ 5:18 pm

  34. Geoff; In an effort to answer your concerns I will present some evidence for the position I take. However, before doing so it would be useful to make a statement about scripture and its value. We, as LDS, do not get our doctrine from scripture. We get it from revelation. In order to more easily accept the revelation and to understand it as best we can we do insist that it not be in contradiction to scripture. We can also use scripture to add to our revelation. But we do not get our doctrine from reading and re-reading scripture. With that in mind let me present the following:

    In an article published in The Improvement Era (Improvement Era, Vol. 13, pp. 75-81.) President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund said the following in relation to Adam:

    Adam; our progenitor; the first man, was like Christ, a pre-existent spirit, and like Christ he took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, a “living soul.” The doctrine of the pre-existence-revealed so plainly, particularly in latter days-pours a wonderful flood of light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man’s origin. It shows that a man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo experience in mortality. It teaches that all men existed in the spirit before any man existed in the flesh, and that all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner.It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was “the first man of all men,”(Moses 1:34.) and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race.

    Joseph F. Smith John R. Winder Anthon H. Lund.
    First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Now you may consider this the traditions of our fathers, but I consider a statement made over the signatures of the First Presidency as worthy of note. Although it may not be part of our canon I consider it as important as any scripture. Can there be errors in statements of this source? Yes, just as there can be errors in scripture. But play the odds and accept it as being of great value. Note particularly the comment: “…born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father …” This confirms what I am trying to convey to you about the pre-existence.

    Joseph Smith also taught that we can advance from a position of weakness to a position of being exalted with God. Note that this process starts when God was in the midst of spirits and then I suggest continued through mortality.

    “The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intellligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is reqquisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”

    Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 354

    And then to go directly to scripture. When you take these statements and consider them with the following verses the combination adds credibility to my position.

    D&C 130:2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.

    May I suggest that this verse tells us that the pre-existence and the life hereafter will be much like the one we are living now. I think it is warranted.

    D&C 77:2 2 Q. What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?
    A. They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.

    Note the idea of the similarity of spiritual and temporal.

    I can understand that you have likely seen and are aware of these scriptures. Taken in combination with the two statements we can learn a bit about the pre-existence.

    Comments?

    Lets deal with intelligences in another post.

    George

    Comment by George — April 7, 2005 @ 9:56 pm

  35. Nice research George. I think the one that is on point for you is the first quote “…born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father…” All the others could be just as easily be used to defend the Heber C. model as the the idea you support of spirit birth, rearing, and then an inexplicable stop to the aging process. It is also true that many believe this idea of spirit birth is what Blake calls a “cultural overbelief” and that it has never been revealed to be true by revelation. I am unsure about that idea myself. It does seem problematic that an eternal being could be “born” at some point, though. So I’m not sure that we can separate this question from the question of what an intelligence really is. Having said that, I need to go do some research and see if I have anything to counter this good quote you dug up. It still makes no logical sense but with the First Presidency stamp on it I won’t yet come out and say they were just wrong on it (I’ll try to get quotes from other prophets to do it for me ;-))

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 7, 2005 @ 10:54 pm

  36. Geoff, I thought that you were interested in discussing the holes in the idea of the pre-existence that I believe in. I am not particularly interested in arguing the point. I did not “do research” so much as simply look up one of the many citations on point by checking my notes. It would seem that there is merit in looking at the structure and the shortcomings, if any, from the point of view of completeness. It seems that the question might be do I have an answer, even though you may disagree, for your “holes?”

    Blake Ostler is one smart fellow. I have only read one book by him and only had a few exchanges with him. However, I think that he relies more on his own intellect and philosophy than he does on prophetic statements. To suggest that the spiritual birth is a “cultural overbelief” is a strange idea. As you can see it has been stated by the First Presidency in an official statement. This is not something that is going to be overcome by conflicting statements from individuals. Perhaps it would be useful to suggest an alternative.

    If you are not familiar with the book by Brent Top – The Life Before – you might take a moment and read a few chapters in that book. You will find it in your GospeLink software. I was not aware of this book until I was looking up some quotes for you, but I find that the few chapters I did read were right on point for our discussion. For now look at chapters 3, 4, and 5. I need to review the rest of the book for I have not read it.

    You are correct when you suggest that an important element in this part of the discussion is the nature of intelligence and spirit. But before we go to that point perhaps you would like to do your looking for conflicting statements. If you are unable to come up with some quickly perhaps I will have a few for you.

    Best wishes,

    George

    Comment by George — April 8, 2005 @ 5:58 am

  37. Good points George. There is no question that there are many quotes out there at least vaguely implying the idea you mention. The problems lie inthe details I guess. I have not yet seen anyone talk about the issues I bring up of how a spirit gets born, grows up, yet somehow breaks the natural pattern of entropy and stops aging at some healthy adult age.

    I think the rough basics are accurate but it is these details that constitute the holes I am referring to. Unfortunately, none of the research I have done has helped fill the holes yet. That makes me think there is a lot more to this story than we normally assume. Please do share any research you find on the details.

    I’m running out the door right now, but I’ll add more regarding this cultural overbelief concept later too.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 8, 2005 @ 8:12 am

  38. It is quite clear that the church leadership today supports the idea of spiritual birth. (see the proclamation on the family) But it also seems that Joseph Smith didn’t believe in it. Blake argues that this idea was a by-product of BY and Eliza R. Snows doctines on Adam-God, Heavenly Mother and so on. This view (which is a heart warminig view that certainly promotes family values) later came to be defended as revelation which distinguished us from “apostate” christianity.

    While I don’t necessarily see things exactly as Blake does on this topic, (I do believe in a Mother in Heaven) I had have serious difficulties accepting the notions of spirit birth. It directly implies essentialism, in that “we” are spirit children of God, while all other animals are not. We are essentially different. Evolution says that this is all wrong.

    See here, here, here and here for a more detailed account.

    I know that I already said the same thing and that George mentioned that we need to account for the fall and stuff. We are making progress at the other site, but as George also mentioned, here is not the place for discussing evolution.

    I do, however, think that what we believe should mesh at least somewhat well with the world that we see around us, meaning genetics and geological records and the like.

    I’ll tell you what really worries me about the spirit-birth essentialism. It is simply impossible that all humans have a common ancestor who lived a mere 6,000 years ago. That means, that those children of Adam would be spirit children of God, while the other would not be. From there it is a hop, skip and a jump to denying certain races the priesthood or other gospel blessings.

    If we instead say that all living creatures were “intelligences”, some (the humans) more intelligent than others, we avoid this unpleasant problem.

    Spirit birth can mean lots of things, just as being born of the spirit can mean lot’s of things. But I simply cannot except that our Mother in Heaven gave birth after an uncomfortable pregnancy to billions upon billions of individuals.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 8, 2005 @ 11:03 am

  39. […] is probably the best way to explain the My Turn on Earth model of the pre-mortal life that I have been discussing lately. A major problem with this Batch theory for me is that verse 39 in Moses 1 explai […]

    Pingback by New Cool Thang » Who were the inhabitants of all those other worlds? — April 10, 2005 @ 12:28 am

  40. OK, this is a long dead thread, so it may be the perfect place for me to interject something where it will safely reside for awhile without drawing too much attention to itself.

    We are told that before we came to this earth we were begotten sons and daughters by God.

    In this life, when we accept the gospel, and are “born again” we become the “begotten” sons and daughters of Christ.

    Could it be that this is what we are talking about in the pre-existence as well? That as immortal or eternal intelligences, we were organized in a previous estate, on another earth, to become the children of our Heavenly Father? We were born “spiritually” and not by some eternal ethereal intelligences being placed into a spirit body?

    If this is the case, than maybe we’re looking at something like this:

    In the premortal life that we are experiencing now, we became spirit children of our Heavenly Father when we accepted him as our Savior.

    In this life, he is now our heavenly father, and the being who was Adam last time around, is now our Eldest Brother–Jesus Christ. In this life, we will accept him as our Father when we accept the gospel.

    If we become exalted, in the next life we can become Gods like Abraham, sitting on our thrones, until like Brigham Young taught, we go down to an earth and create physical bodies for other spirits to inhabit.

    Perhaps there is a chain with Michael following Jehovah/Christ following Elohim. Adam in this existence, may follow the Savior to become the Savior for all those worlds of that generation or “batch” of mortal worlds. Our children will then become his spirit children when they accept him as their Savior. Maybe eventually we can be Saviors as well, being born with power to lay down our life and take it up again, to help bring to pass the eternal life and exaltation of other intelligences, just like we see happening in this world here. When we do that, we will finally have achieved the fulness of the glory of our current Father in Heaven. Of course, with eternal progression, he and the chain of gods before us will have moved to whatever lies ahead for them, perhaps in the orders of kingdoms that are higher than the Celestial Kingdom, which we are only briefly told about in D&C 130. I’m sure even this, if true, is a little too simplified. But may make more sense than the MTOE model?

    How’s that for Space Doctrine?

    Comment by Rob — January 23, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

  41. Hey Rob,

    That sounds pretty close to schemes I have considered in the last year (I think we talked about it here). I am not completely settled in my mind on specifics yet, though.

    Also, based on my study and the evidence, I agree that the “spirit birth” doctrine does not work.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 24, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  42. I am a Mormon, but I kind of keep my philosophical thoughts to myself. In reality the subject of reincarnation should not be a shock or mystery. The subject was taught by the early church fathers until, suppressed by the Emperor Justinian. If one believes in a pre-existence then he would have to believe in mortal probation, like love and marriage they go together. As it has been in the past dogmas and authority are the suppressors of light and truth.Jesus and John the Babtist were members of that remarkable race of people called the ‘Essenes’ what was their beliefs.Yes,mortal probations until the soul reaches a state of perfection. “Blessed are they who suffer many experiences, for they shall be made perfect: They shall be as the angels in Heaven and shall die no more, and neither shall they be reborn, for death and birth will no longer have dominion over them.” Jesus, Gospel of the Holy Twelve
    They among many others have mentioned that one lifetime is not enough for the soul to reach that divine level.
    Prescendia Huntington Buell (Wife of Joseph Smith) George Q. Cannon William Clayton Orson Hyde Heber C. Kimball Helen Whitney Kimball (Wife of Joseph Smith) Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (Wife of Joseph Smith) Alexander Niebour (Taught Joseph Smith reincarnation from the Zohar, Grandfather to Hugh Nibley) Charles W. Penrose Orson Pratt Parley P. Pratt Joseph L. Robinson Eliza R. Snow (Wife of Joseph Smith) Orson F. Whitney These are a few if the peole Joesph Smith taught the concept of plural probations
    In much the same way that Joseph Smith, in private taught plural marriages, he also taught plural probation we get an indication of this by some of the diaries of his wives. know”the purpose of successive probations is for the attainment of knowledge and intelligence” Joseph Smith If one studies Freemasonry, the Kaballah,and Roscruciasm he would realize that the three philosophies are identical, and what did Joseph Smith study.Right,Freemasonry and the Kabbalah.The essential teachings are the soul continues to evolve until it reaches a state of perfection we Mormons call this eternal progression. WHEN ASKED why he never taught the doctrine publicly? Joseph Smith gave the Following answers;
    Said Joseph, “Our lives have already become jeopardized by revealing the wicked and bloodthirsty purposes of our enemies; and for the future we must cease to do so. All we have said about them is truth, but it is not always wise to relate all the truth. Even Jesus, the Son of God had to refrain from doing so, and had to restrain his feelings many times for
    The safety of himself and his followers, and had to conceal the righteous
    Purposes of his heart in relation to many things pertaining to his Father’s kingdom (DISCOURSES OF THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 302
    Unfortunately, the time was not ripe to reveal the doctrine of reincarnation, or “eternal lives” as Joseph called it, for the people would have hardened their hearts to that truth and it would have hindered the church of God. The Prophet realized this when he stated: “It is not always wise to relate all truth.” DHC 6:608.
    He also said: “The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for the eternal worlds, I SHALL KEEP IN MY OWN BOSOM at present.” DHC 5:403
    In addition he said: “I have NEVER had the opportunity to give them (the saints) the plan that God has revealed to me.” DHC 3:286
    Now the average Mormon believes he has a pretty good grasp of the plan of salvation and the reason for his mortal existence, but the founder, Joseph Smith, said he was not even able to reveal it. Therefore, none of the members of the church today are even aware of “the design of the great God in sending us into this world” for that design includes a series of rebirths until each of us eventually attains perfection..
    The concept is a great mystery to some, but for the well read and those with a mind that is not closed to truth there are no other truth. Not only was this concept predominating among early Christians, but it has been the belief of every notable philosopher throughout history. From Plato to Emerson.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    “The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.” “It is the secret of the return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals… and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise
    Many of the greatest men of antiquity taught among them being such great names as those of Orpheus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plato, Apollonius of Tyana, with Ennius and Seneca among the Romans. We find the doctrine in ancient Persia, also among the Druids, and in the Germany of classical times; while it was a cornerstone of the grand mystical religion of old Egypt… For was expounded in the Qabbalah, the esoteric philosophy of the Jews, their secret, mystic teaching; so did Philo, one of the greatest philosophers belonging to the Jewish race and a renowned Neo-Platonist, teach it. So, also, did the celebrated Jewish historian Josephus.
    Heber Kimball had some similar views.
    “When an unbaked pot is broken, the potter can use the mud to make a new one, but when a baked one is broken, he cannot do the same any longer. So when a person dies in a state of ignorance, he is born again but when he becomes well baked in the fire of true knowledge and dies a perfect man, he is not born again.”
    “When the elements in an organized form do not fill the end of their creation, they are thrown back again, like brother Kimball’s old pottery ware, to be ground up, and made over again.” -Brigham Young
    This sounds a little similar to Shakespeare
    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages.– Shakespeare, As You Like
    a law of cycles of flux and reflux, of cause and effect of manifestations and disappearances, Such as day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking.
    Our earth in the spring discards its white blanket of snow and emerges forth from its periods of rest-its winter sleep. All activities are exerted to bring forth new life everywhere. Time passes, the corn and vegetation are ripened and harvested and again the busy summer fades gradually into the inactivity of Winter; again the snowy Our universe is like a grain of sand on an endless beach, along with the laws of the universe coverlet enwraps the earth but her sleep is not forever, for she will re-awaken to the song of a new spring which will mark for her a little eternal progression along the pathway of time. So with the life of man. Is it conceivable that this law, so perfectly universal, so cosmic in scope should be inoperative in the life of man? Shall the earth awake each year from its winter sleep; shall the trees and flowers live again, shall all the examples of this great law be observed and man die. It is inconceivable and impossible. It will not happen-even if all the religions in the world say that it will. The same law that incites wakefulness in the plant and stirs it to new growth will wake the human being to new experiences on their road to eternal progression, or to the distant goal of perfection Therefore, under the same spiritual laws of the universe. We all follow the same fluctuation of being; .Birth, Youth, Maturity, Decadence and death, and then we enter birth again, to be molded into a better person.
    Each soul continues to evolve. As what was stated in Gandhi’s Bible (The Giita) There was no beginning nor there an end. The wise mourn neither for the living or the dead. There was never a time that we will cease to exist, nor there a future where we cease to be. As worn out garments are shed by the body, worn out bodies are shed by the dweller. Death is certain for the born and rebirth is certain for the dead. We need not grieve for that which is unavoidable and certain. The law of karma states that for every action there is a reaction. Why does a beautiful child die suddenly while a lonely old man lingers on forever? Why are some children charismatic and intelligent while others are slow and dull?
    I have always wished the church would teach this concept, but apparently most are not ready to accept it. Many refer to behave like Bruce McConkie; when a truth is revealed and they don’t understand it” This is of Satan, the Devil”. I believe there is a pathway for everyone. A pathway of dogmas for those like Bruce Mcconkie and pathway of enlightenment similar to David O. McKay.” Seek Spirituality, victory overself, and communion with the infinite”
    I think we can make the following conclusions:
    That which has a beginning must have an end. The oak may live for centuries, the butterfly for only a few days or hours, both must die. The soul has always been eternal, if it had a beginning it too would have to die… There is no escape from the stern logic of this conclusion. A fragmentary immortality is not realistic, for endless existence after death is conceivable only if the soul is eternally pre-existent
    1) The soul is eternal.

    2) We reap what we sew, the eastern karmic law that states for every action there is a reaction. Our fate today is a reward or punishment for our actions of yesterday. Our actions today will determine our fate tomorrow.
    Someone once said that the death of a dogma represents the birth of a reality. And what is reality?
    General George S. Patton
    “So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me.”
    Albert Schweitzer
    “Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”
    Walt Whitman
    “I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time.”
    William Wordsworth
    “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.”
    Carl Jung
    “My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”
    As the diver puts on his diving suit to go under water, and then removes it when he comes back to the surface, so the spirit, at birth, clothes itself with a human body, and then gives it up, and throws it away, at the time of transition. The play of that specific life ends, and the actor takes off his costume (the body) and readies himself for the next play.
    Many of us were raised in either a Mormon or orthodox Christian church where it was unthinkable to challenge the authority, of the church and even less the dogmas and doctrines that churches have. We do not have to challenge the authority of leadership, but to have your own idea of truth is far more important and also to wear our knowledge like a watch-do not proclaim the time hourly, but proclaim your knowledge only when asked for it. Once again B.Franklyn had the best answer….
    Refreshed by our after death experiences, we will come back ready and able to carry on where we left off, and to face challenges that will help us unfold our spiritual potential. Benjamin Franklin put this clearly in his epitaph:
    The Body of B. Franklin,
    Printer
    Like the Cover of an Old Book,
    Its Contents Torn Out
    And
    Stripped of its Lettering and Gilding,
    Lies Here
    Food for Worms,
    But the Work shall not be Lost,
    For it Will as He Believed
    Appear Once More
    In a New and more Elegant Edition
    Revised and Corrected By the Author.
    I FEEL WE CAN REACH THE Conclusion that Joseph Smith and other members realized this concept to be true but he also realized that to reveal it would do more harm than good. “The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding” ~The Kybalion

    any questions contact me Tuit1@msn.com

    Comment by John Martin — August 11, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  43. John (#42),

    I would say that anyone who believes that one mortal lifetime is not enough to reach a divine level has no understanding of the doctrine of exaltation, or the nature of godliness. I would like to hear a direct quote from Parley P. Pratt on the subject, however.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 11, 2006 @ 11:37 am

  44. Mark,

    I’ve never met anyone who thinks one mortal lifetime is enough time to reach “a divine level”. Most LDS believe that spiritual progression happened before this life and that it is possible to one degree or another after we die. Therefore the only question is what the mechanism for that progression looks like. Some apostles and other church leaders thought it entailed multiple mortal probations; other apostles and leaders have disagreed.

    I must say that you come off as a ridiculous blowhard when you claim Heber C. Kimball, Orson F. Whitney, Eliza R. Snow, and many other luminaries of the restoration had “no understanding of the doctrine of exaltation, or the nature of godliness” though. Perhaps you didn’t really mean it — but that is what you said.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 11, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

  45. Geoff,

    I have yet to come across an explicit quote from any of those people, that convincingly demonstrates they actually believed in multiple *mortal* probations. A/G theories do not count for this purpose, as the new Adam and Eve are just coming to give their world a start, not to qualify for exaltation. In A/G being an Adam or an Eve is evidence of exaltation. Then presumably each Adam and Eve get translated so they can preside over their posterity from heaven.

    The biggest problem with an A/G theory is one has two sets of posterity. First one has a lineal and adoptive posterity on this earth, and then one has a lineal posterity on the next earth. Topologically speaking, that is rather odd. Heber J. Grant once said that “if one could not preside over his own posterity than who could he preside over”?

    So you have an endless posterity on this earth, like Abraham, and then have a *large* number of VSB spirit children, then have them again as lineal children, like Adam and Eve. Now if every couple if off worrying about a whole new world, when do they ever have time to worry about their earthly posterity, the children that are sealed to them for all eternity?

    Now if you add a full MMP scheme where one has say thirty mortal lives, then presumably each person ends up being sealed for all eternity to thirty different sets of parents, going back to thirty different Adam and Eves, and has thirty different endless posterities. How can a wife have thirty husbands? If there were a polygyny standard then perhaps each man goes through a mortal probation N times, gets up to N eternal wives, and each woman only goes through once or perhaps twice to find her eternal husband.

    In my opinion, the most serious misunderstanding of exalation derives from a incorrect, absolutist understanding of god-hood. There is only one true God, and many persons. No single person needs absolute power, the only thing one really needs is humility, patience, diligience, long suffering, brotherly kindness, charity, etc., and then let the power of grace do the rest. We don’t have to do it all by ourselves. No couple will ever be an uppercase G god all by themselves. The celestial kingdom is a divine society. That society happens to be the one true and living God. Heavenly fathers and mothers are only ambassadors plenipotentiary. As Jesus said, of mine own self I am nothing.

    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have entered into their exaltations. Is is too much to ask for us to do the works of Abraham?

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 11, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

  46. Mark: I have yet to come across an explicit quote from any of those people, that convincingly demonstrates they actually believed in multiple mortal probations

    Oh good grief. You must either not be following the links I have repeatedly given on this subject or you are in a severe state of denial, bro. Whether MMP is an accurate description of the eternities or not is up for debate, but there is ample evidence that LDS apostles and prophets have believed and taught it in the past. In addition to the public teaching I have mentioned many times in the past we have these gems from the personal diaries of apostle Orson F. Whitney:

    “3 June 1889: This evening I heard that Pres. Woodruff, in a meeting at Manti, a few days ago, publicly declared that the doctrine of reincarnation, that is one spirit having several bodies, to be false; that he was Wilford Woodruff and no one else, &c &c. Alright, bro. Woodruff, if you really said it, it is between you and the Lord. I believe it to be a true doctrine, & have for the last (word cut out of entry) years.” (Diary of OFW, 3 June 1889, Church Archives)

    “8 June 1889: During our talks he (Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, if it came to him from the Lord or his oracle.” (ibid 8 June 1889)

    Further, Brigham reportedly taught that Jesus had a body of flesh and bones prior to condescending to this planet (I know I’ve quoted this objection by Orson Pratt before for you):

    “I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body of flesh and bones, before he came (to earth and) he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.” (Minutes of meeting on April 5, 1860, BY Papers)

    I’m not saying this proves they were right, but to deny they ever believed these things is naive.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 11, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  47. I did not deny they ever believed it, I said I had not come across convincing evidence that they did in other than A/G form. That evidence is sufficient to convince me that Orson F. Whitney believed in MMP, Wilford Woodruff believed it was false, and that Lorenzo Snow had not really thought about it. I have no doubt that Eliza R. Snow believed in A/G, whether she believed in MMP is open to question because it is rather vague hearsay two times removed, three times removed in the case of Joseph Smith.

    There is some really strange MMP stuff out there. I read a couple of web pages that claimed that Joseph Smith was the reincarnated Mormon, who was the reincarnated Paul. Another one claims that the Christ-spirit was reincarnated as “Adam, Melchizedek, Buddha, JESUS, Ali ibn Abu Talib, Mirza Hussein Ali Nuri (“Bahá’u’lláh”), and Salim Mousa El-Achi (“Dr. Dahesh”)” – and this was on a page purporting to describe the history of the Morrisites(!).

    One problem is that if this were the case, the patriarchal order would be worse than spaghetti, more like the worst knot the world had ever seen. A second problem is why do we do baptisms for the dead, or proxy ordinances in general? Why is the gospel preached in the spirit world?

    To me stuff like this shows the general weakness of studying the gospel using what I will call the “Nibley method” – digging up every apocryphal document you can find, and looking for attractive ideas. So much better to go over the canon over and over again, in study and prayer, than to try to filter out strange eastern philosophies from the general apocrypha. Some of those pages made some interesting scriptural arguments, but I do not think any were very convincing. (One claimed that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah, but did not know it).

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 12, 2006 @ 12:50 am

  48. By the way, a spirit body, even a pre-mortal spirit body, does have “flesh and bone”, just a less tangible sort than we have now, and a *much* less tangible sort than a resurrected spirit body. It is “flesh and blood” that a spirit body does not have. Of course “flesh” is often used in a “mortal, corruptible” sense in the scriptures, as well.

    Technically speaking “physical body” is redundant. “physis” is a Greek term that is usually translated “nature”. How can a body, of all things, not have a nature? (speaking generally) In fact a spiritual body has more of a lasting nature than a mortal body does – in a way it is more natur-al than a mortal body, which is more ephemeral. The best part about a mortal body is that it is relatively easy to change one’s nature. That is probably why mortal bodies are mortal.

    If we didn’t need a body to acquire a divine nature, we probably wouldn’t have one of any kind. Intelligences seem radically unstable, fleeting, ephemeral, etc (kind of like little kids). Will one thing one moment, and another the next. A body gives stability to an intelligence. The trick is getting the right kind of body, one with a nature worth glorifying and preserving.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 12, 2006 @ 7:25 am

  49. Mark: I did not deny they ever believed it, I said I had not come across convincing evidence that they did in other than A/G form.

    Great, now you have your evidence.

    There is some really strange MMP stuff out there.

    Agreed. But what does that have to do with this conversation? We are talking about MMP in the sense of one mortal probation for each inhabited planet but never more than once per world. Traditional reincarnation on the same world has been explicitly decried as a false doctrine by modern apostles and prophets whereas MMP in the sense of experiencing mortal probations on multiple inhabited worlds is up for debate still. As I have repeatedly stated, I believe that it was only the latter form of MMP that the LDS leaders in question favored.

    By the way, a spirit body, even a pre-mortal spirit body, does have “flesh and bone”, just a less tangible sort than we have now, and a much less tangible sort than a resurrected spirit body.

    Riiight… I’m familiar with that verse from the Book of Mark Butler. But I take sources like that with a block of salt (no matter how authoritatively it is stated).

    Comment by Geoff J — August 12, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  50. Geoff,

    What’s the practical difference between the two MMPs?

    Comment by Jack — August 12, 2006 @ 2:55 pm

  51. Jack,

    I’m not sure I understand exactly what you are asking, but I think that there are all kinds of very important differences between the two concepts. As I mentioned, one is that traditional reincarnation (living multiple times on this planet) has been explicitly denounced as an incorrect doctrine by several church leaders. But traditional reincarnation doesn’t really help fill any of the gaps in Mormon theology that MMP fills anyway. MMP does a very good job of answering most or all of the questions about eternal progression that I brought up in the post for this thread — that is the main reason I like to bring it up as a possible way of explaining the details of eternal progression.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 12, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

  52. Geoff,

    I should say, what’s the practical difference–for individuals who are progressing onward and upward through multiple mortal probations–between experiencing those multiple lives on one planet or on as many different planets as there are probations? As far as the individual is concerned it really shouldn’t make any difference, should it?

    Comment by Jack — August 12, 2006 @ 5:45 pm

  53. Jack,

    The way things happen from Genesis 1 until the judgment day on this planet is mapped out pretty well in scriptures and there is no room for traditional reincarnation there. MMP is an attempt to model how eternal progression worked for us in the eternities before this planet and how it will work afterwards. This is an important question for Mormons since we reject creation ex nihilo and because the revelations say that we are co-eternal with God in on way or another.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  54. Geoff,

    One certainly should not believe anything another believes, just because they believe it. However, if one just ignores it, and does not give it a fighting chance, that is sad.

    Are you saying that you do not believe that spirits have bodies? Two eyes and ten fingers, arms and muscles, legs and bones? If so, what do you make of the following:

    Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

    And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

    Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

    And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.
    (Ether 3:14-17)

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 13, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

  55. Mark,

    You are the first person I have ever heard equate “spirit bodies” with “bodies of flesh and bones”. I suspect you may be the last person I hear make such a claim too, but you never know.

    Now I think those Ether verses are quite interesting too. I can see how you might be able to stretch them and use them to support your position — they are vague enough to do so to a degree. However, one could even more easily point to that experience the Brother of Jared had as evidence that Jesus already had a resurrected body prior to coming here too. Christ’s finger touched a physical rock and all didn’t it? Section 129 indicates that only resurrected bodies can do that (emphasis mine):

    1 There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones-
    2 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
    3 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.
    4 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
    5 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
    6 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear-
    7 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
    8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.
    9 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

    So I think the episode in Ether serves as better evidence for MMP than as evidence for your unusual definition of a “spirit body”.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2006 @ 8:04 pm

  56. Geoff,

    The key part of that passage is “as ye see me have”, i.e. spirits (prior to resurrection) do not have tangible flesh and bones of the sort a resurrected person has.

    So this is mostly a question of nomenclature. As Paul said, “All flesh is not of the same flesh”. Standard nomenclature is that we use the terms flesh and bone to refer to mortal bodies and resurrected bodies, but not the less tangible pre-mortal and pre-resurrection spirit bodies. But indeed any sort of recognizable spirit body has arms and legs and muscles and bones, otherwise they wouldn’t look human at all.

    As the scripture says “All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter”. This is a distinctive doctrine of our Church, most believe that the spiritual is strictly im-material and often a-temporal, and non-locational as well. For example one conception of the resurrection is a “beatific vision” where one becomes timeless and immutable the way that God is timeless and immutable, and yet captured in a state of everlasting and eternal joy.

    So I am saying that true, the hand of a spirit person would indeed pass right through the hand of a mortal or resurrected person, but that a spirit person has a hand, with bones and muscles, made of a finer sort of matter, perhaps almost translucent. And I say that as a technical “matter” that a hand made out of any sort of matter, (i.e. one that is more than an idea), is indeed some sort of “flesh”. And furthermore that a resurrected body is made out of the same type of spirit matter that a normal spirit body is, just packed far more densely than that of a normal spirit body.

    That is what gives the peculiar (and I would say technically correct) nomenclature of 1 Corinthians 15 its meaning:

    So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

    It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
    (1 Cor 15:42-47)

    Compare what Jesus said:

    God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
    (John 4:24)

    Now is not this paradoxical? The question remains, what kind of Spirit is He? Certainly every heavenly father has or will have a glorified resurrected body. The question is what makes a glorified resurrected body different from out bodies. And I say it is because it is made of dense spirit matter. Normal matter cannot travel between heaven and earth at superluminous speeds, save it be glorified beyond measure. Remember Paul saying, “in the body or out of the body I cannot tell”? So the answer is God both is and isn’t a (S|s)pirit, depending on which sense of the term one is speaking of. He is certainly not an intangible spirit, not since he gained a tangible body at at any rate, but a tangible one. All flesh is not of the same flesh. All Spirit is not of the same spirit. Unto God all things are spiritual (D&C 29:34).

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 13, 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  57. Mark: And furthermore that a resurrected body is made out of the same type of spirit matter that a normal spirit body is, just packed far more densely than that of a normal spirit body.

    Hmmm. Interesting theory. I don’t have any particular qualms with it. It’s some pretty creative speculation actually. In fact, I actually kinda like it.

    Now as it turns out, your theory supports my point about Ether 3 working as pretty good evidence that Jesus had a resurrected body before condescending to be the savior here. (As I mentioned in #46, Brigham Young taught this very thing.) What I mean is that if we get to call tangible resurrected bodies “spirit bodies” as you postulate, then a major obstacle in Ether 3 to the theory that Jesus already a glorified resurrected person prior to his mortal birth is taken away. The evidence in that story points to Christ’s tangible finger touching earthly stones. Section 129 clearly states that a non-resurrected spirit body couldn’t touch stones at all but would pass right through them. Further, section 129 also precludes the possiblility of the Lord pretending to touch the stone to create an illusion that he did so because “it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive” in such things.

    So by using your definition of resurrected being more dense “spirit bodies” it makes perfect sense when the pre-mortal Jesus told the Brother of Jared “Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit”. It could have been his already-resurrected spirit body from a previous mortal probation in which he attained exaltation.

    I somehow doubt you intended to lend support to the idea of multiple mortal probations with your theory though…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

  58. Geoff,

    I do not believe that Christ had a resurrected body before his mortal birth, nor do I believe one is necessary to exercise divine power, just that a resurrected body is better, a greater “weight of glory” than the type of spirit one has before one is born. Since I think infinite backward recursion is unscriptural, the necessary conclusion is that at some point there was no person who had ever been resurrected. And also that at some point there was no intelligence who had ever received a spirit body with two eyes and ten fingers. But surely God was acting before the creation of the first spirit body, for he designed it, creating all things spiritually, before they were temporally upon the earth.

    The scriptures about no death before the Fall imply that the Genesis 2-3 is an allegory about the creation of bodies of spirit. A spiritual Adam, with a body made of spirit dust, on a spirit earth. And not just one Adam and Eve, but many – that is what Adam means. And yet all mankind fell short of glory that they were intended to have in the first estate, i.e. they transgressed the law.

    Thus a plan for a second estate, with mortal bodies, marriage, family, and an Atonement was established. The complete fossil record of hundreds of millions of years is passed over in the Genesis 2-3 account. No doubt mortal bodies operated on much more sophisticated principles than our original bodies of spirit, and it took a long time to figure out, starting with simple life forms, and working up over hundreds of millions of years, in a design-build, modify-tweak process.

    And then finally Adam and Eve get temporal bodies, after who knows how many humans before them, Pre-Adamites who might have been destroyed, by and large. Sometimes I wonder if the aborigines (people “from the beginning”) are direct descendants of Adam (our Adam) at all, but rather left overs from prior peoples, “cave men”, etc. Adam and Eve sure seem to have quite a few peers in some accounts.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 13, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

  59. Yeah, I knew you didn’t intend to support MMP — even if you inadvertantly have provided a decent theory to support it.

    I have discussed pre-Adamites in the past here. I would be very careful with speculating on who descended from Adam vs. who descended from cavemen if I were you. First, Modern prophets have said all of humankind are children of God (and Adam) so I think it is false to imply anyone is not; and second, the entire notion that only some people (aborigines or whoever) descended from cavemen only and not a literal Adam is walking a dangerous and pernicious racism line that I doubt you want to overstep.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 13, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  60. Geoff,

    I am not discriminating. I do not believe that anybody on the earth is a viviparous descendant of an original set of heavenly parents, either spiritually or physically. In other words, Adam was an adopted son of God, not a viviparous son of God. Anyone else potentially not a biological descendant of Adam can be adopted in the same manner, provided they are righteous. Same deal with the house of Israel – DNA means nothing if you are wicked. Many, many gentiles will enter the kingdom of God before many of the children of Israel, usually due to humility. If a person is righteous he is worthy of *all* the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    The only way for all humans to be biological children of Adam would be to push Adam’s mortal tenure on the earth to at least 60,000 BC. I do not see why that is necessary, anymore than it would be necessary that all be natural descendants of Abraham or Jacob. Adoption works just fine. Remeber if one is wicked, he is not strictly counted as a child of God until he repents, but rather a child of the devil. If he never repents, he will never be a child of God. Spiritual child-hood is more significant than biological child-hood.

    Comment by Mark Butler — August 14, 2006 @ 8:16 am

  61. The only way for all humans to be biological children of Adam would be to push Adam’s mortal tenure on the earth to at least 60,000 BC.

    That may be true if one wants to claim that humans are exclusively descended from a literal Adam and Eve. But recent research has indicated that every human on the the earth today is a literal descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so if there was a literal Adam on this planet (something I am admittedly not convinced of) then we are all descended from him and Eve too.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2006 @ 10:44 am

  62. The only way for all humans to be biological children of Adam would be to push Adam’s mortal tenure on the earth to at least 60,000 BC. I do not see why that is necessary, anymore than it would be necessary that all be natural descendants of Abraham or Jacob. Adoption works just fine. Remeber if one is wicked, he is not strictly counted as a child of God until he repents, but rather a child of the devil. If he never repents, he will never be a child of God. Spiritual child-hood is more significant than biological child-hood.

    Comment by Jim Nance — May 14, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

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